Trip to the US East Coast
Last month we decided to take a 'break'...
Naahhh who am I kidding... it was more like things were turning out such that it seemed we are headed back to India. Why? That's a different story. Anyway, before going back I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty and Praji wanted to see Niagara Falls! So we decided to make a trip to the East Coast.
Initial thought was to fly to NY and then rent a car and drive around. Then a friend suggested taking a guided tour and getting the booking through www.gotobus.com. We went through their site, looked up some reviews and they seemed dependable enough so after a couple of days of dithering we plonked the Bens to getting two bookings. Thanks to their Buy 2 get 1 free, we didn't have to pay anything for our 3 year old. The booking included travel and lodging only. Everything else (food, attraction tickets, gratuity etc.) is extra. They helpfully mentioned that we should get a confirmation from them 'before' booking flight tickets. The confirmation took a day and thereafter we bought the flight tickets. They had suggested we go to Newark for 'best service' but tickets from Boise to Newark were considerably costlier than tickets to JFK so we booked to JFK.
Day by Day
April 7, 2010
Reached JFK at about 5:30 p.m. We flew from Boise to Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City to New York. The Salt Lake City to New York flight was late by about an hour so we reached at about 5:30 p.m.
Once we reached the airport we called our GotoBus contact who gave us the number of the vehicle driver who was supposed to pick us up. After an 'exciting conversation' (over my Indian laced English and his Mandrian laced English) we finally managed to meet up at the Airport Terminal. It was actually a minivan with a few other people in it.
Here we were offered if we wanted the Night tour, I wanted to but was feeling sick (headache and nausea thanks to sleepless work nights earlier that week). So we decided to go to the hotel. However instead of going to the hotel directly we were taken to China Town in Manhattan to the Tour operator's office. The tour operator was L'n'L tours. After a brief wait with lots of other fellow tourists we were divided into two groups and everyone not going for the night tour was sent off to the hotel. Just an FYI, the night tour is not included in cost of the tour, it's $25 per person.
We were put up in Renaissance EWR, 1000 Spring Street Elizabeth, NJ 0720. Once we reached the place we realized why it was suggested that we go to Newark for 'best' service. The hotel is bang opposite Newark airport. The hotel is neat. Marginally better than Super 8 and Best Western hotels. Since it was only for the night, it didn't really matter much. We were supposed to leave at 7:00 am in the morning next day so all we did was hit the sack as soon as possible.
April 8, 2010
We ordered for breakfast even though we were told that we would be given an opportunity to grab breakfast later in the morning. The tour started off around 7:15am and we were taken back to China Town, office of our tour operator. On the way we were introduced to early morning traffic NYC style at the Holland Tunnel. After a 30 minute break for food we were joined by a few more families. The 52 seater bus was full